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Took out German Artillery in Trench

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Lynn Compton goes by the nickname Buck. Compton was born and raised in Los Angeles. He went to high school and then to UCLA for college. He spent his life before the war in Southern California. His father and Jimmy Doolittle were both from Southern Los Angeles. Doolittle and Compton's dad were friends in high school. They did not keep contact during the war because Compton's father died when he was 15. The Depression did not affect the family. Compton's father never lost his job but held sympathy for other people. Compton raised money for his family during the Depression by acting. His aunt worked as a casting director at Central Casting and was able to get Compton work as an extra. Compton was always interested in sports at a young age and played football and baseball in high school. He went to college on a football scholarship. At the time, all males in college were required to take two years of ROTC and he took an additional two years of training. One of the highest ranking ROTC members at UCLA was Jack Singlaub who was a career military man and one of the fathers of the CIA. Compton majored in physical education to be a high school coach and had hopes of playing professional sports. The ROTC members had to fulfill active duty work and by the end of his four years at UCLA the war was still going on so the men were shipped to Fort Benning for training.

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Lynn Compoton had just played football against USC when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Compton woke up to hearing people talk about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor outside his window. Compton knew that joining the ROTC meant serving active duty at some point but did not know which branch they would join. More men volunteered to join the military instead of trying to escape armed service. Compton signed up with the regiment who had a baseball team at Fort Benning. He did not have duties except for playing baseball. Compton was bothered because the war was going on and they were only playing sports. The only way he could get out would be to apply for flight training or the paratroopers. The flight training took a year and Compton thought he would miss out on the war so he joined the paratroopers and get to combat faster. The paratrooper training was at Fort Benning and then Compton went to a regiment with Jack Singlaub at Camp McCall. Compton went to a school to learn about chemical warfare and demolitions. While Compton was gone the OSS recruited Singlaub and when Compton returned he was gone. Eventually he was shipped overseas and joined the 506 E Company in a town called Holborn in England. [Annotator's note: Compton laughed when he was asked about his first jump and jump training.] Compton referred to his first jump as a reflex action. When the parachute deployed he was upside down in the air. The parachute chords had gotten caught in his shoes and pulled him upside down. Compton had to untangle himself to land safely but landed far away from where he should have been. Compton's first plane ride was nothing special. He considered it reflex.

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Lynn Compton went to England on the Queen Elizabeth ship with thousands of troops. He joined the Easy Company outfit where they were stationed and got there in December. He does not remember distinct details about joining the company. In England he stayed in a house where they did not have hot water and you have to build a fire under the water to make it hot. When Compton got to E Company they had two officers to each platoon instead of one. Compton was an assistant platoon leader and second leader of E Company. [Annotator's note: the 1st Lieutenant was named Pat but Compton cannot remember his last name.] This 1st Lieutenant was transferred eventually. Compton remembers the quarters were once a nice private home in a town square. Some men stayed in stables. The English people were very nice and hospitable. Compton had a good relationship with the men in his platoon. His men included a man named Guarnere [Annotators Note: William Guarnere] and Chuck Grant and another man named Mercer. Compton was only 21 years old and just out of college and remembers he felt more comfortable with the enlisted men than with the officers. The only officer he had a problem with was Winters [Annotators Note: Richard Winters] who kept by the book and was right out of school. This officer lost money at a crap game and became bitter about it. Compton remembers climbing over fences and going through the woods for training. Compton became Second Lieutenant after Winters' court marshall. [Annotators note. Compton looks confused when interviewer mentioned Winters' court marshall.] After Holborn, Compton and his men had to get ready for jumping into Normandy. The men were transferred to Southern England and the men knew they were going into Normandy.

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Lynn Compton was not told about the upcoming invasion while he was in Holborn. Compton could tell by the outlay of land that they were going into Normandy. Compton does not remember much from the jump into Normandy but does remember the English inventing heavy bags you could strap to your legs and jump out of the plane safely. Compton tried to pack the bags full of his rations and goods. When he jumped the blast was so strong he was jerked upwards and lost his bag full of weapons and rations. The only thing he had left was his canteen and he had to steal a Thompson gun from someone on the ground. Compton does not remember the plane number and cannot remember who was in his stick except for Malarkey [Annotator's Note: Donald Malarkey] and Guarnere [Annotator's Note: William Guarnere]. Before Compton jumped, the plane was low to the ground and he remembers landing in an unorganized orchard and could not get out of the harness and had to cut himself out. He talked one man into giving him a Thompson gun but it did not work. Compton watched some men get hit in the air as they jumped down. They gathered a small amount of men and were not organized for several days. Compton believes the Americans' confusion led to German confusion. Compton would tell people that World War II was sitting in a ditch on the side of the road with bullets coming through. Compton has watched the Band of Brothers series and thinks they did a good job filming the Normandy sequence. The jump is hard to reproduce but Compton thinks it made him look better than he was and had a good looking man acting his part. The first man that landed in Normandy after Compton landed was from the 82nd Airborne. He was not from Compton's company or squad but had a weapon when he landed. Compton jumped with a Thompson gun but lost it when the leg bag was lost.

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The first person Lynn Compton met up with after the jump into Normandy was Winters [Annotators Note: Richard Winters]. Compton found Winters and other men near a barn and Winters thought the artillery was out and asked Compton to check it out. Compton crawled across this field to a trench where he could see a couple German soldiers working artillery and jumped though the trench. He took the guys out with a machine gun and hand grenades. The men spent most of the day trying to move across the trench but were caught with fire. He eventually got to Tarenbel and set up camp there after dealing with artillery fire. In the series the scene only lasts about 10 to 15 minutes where in real life it took all day. The trench shown in the film is realistic to a real trench during the Second World War. Compton has been back since and the trenches have been excavated and still are true to what he saw in France. The men were taking small arms fire and were told to get down. Near a German ammunition block someone bumped a potato hand grenade and lost the pin and it rolled into the middle of the area. The grenade exploded skyward and did not hit anyone. [Annotator's note: Compton has a hard time remembering details pertaining to the manor and who was with him at the time.] During the Battle of Carentan Compton and his men waited on high ground without any battles raging on and moved into the city only to find dead bodies. In the series the scene shows extensive battle. Compton and the others walked through the town and out the other side and had a big battle outside of Carentan but not in the direct city. [Annotator's note: Compton does not recall a story of Winters told by the interviewer.]

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Lynn Compton remembers going through Carentan without any resistance. When the bullets started coming the men were pushed back and finally went back to the beach and then to England. [Annotator's note: Compton does not remember giving permission to get a motorcycle or coming back to England.] Compton went back to England and most likely trained for some time. He had jumps that were scheduled, then canceled and the jump in Holland would have been the next jump. Compton does not remember where the canceled jumps were supposed to be. Compton remembers the jump into Holland being during the day with a good landing and an organized assembly. The men were supposed to take over a bridge and only met resistance going towards the bridge. [Annotator's note: Compton does not remember the bridge.] The men were supposed to widen a corridor until the British came for support. Compton moved toward the east through a farmyard taking small arms fire. Getting shot in the behind felt like getting smacked with a fraternity panel. Compton did not feel any pain but had his pants cut. Compton was thrown in a Jeep. The soldiers made jokes to him about where he got shot and Compton was embarrassed. He does not remember being put on a door like in the film series.

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Lynn Compton remembers Doc Roe [Annotators Note: Company E medic Eugene Roe] as the medic who worked on him when he was wounded. Roe was liked and remembered well. [Annotators note. The interviewer pauses the interview to switch tapes.] Compton did not see where the bullet that injured him came from. Compton did not have a very extensive injury but he got shot in the buttocks and the bullet lodged on his left side. He was brought to a field hospital and on the cot next to him was a man from UCLA who played basketball. They were in the same regiment but they had not seen each other and spent much time catching up. They stayed in the same hospital for a few days then were moved to Brussels and finally back to England. After leaving the hospital Compton and had orders to meet the men in Austria. By this time the war was pretty much over and the men were on occupation. [Annotator's note: Compton is disgruntled and confused about where he was between hospitals.] Compton wanted to play a football game on Christmas day but as he and his team were practicing, men came running up and informed the team to go back to headquarters and get their equipment because they were being shipped out and did not know where they were going. They were dropped off near a road and told to dig ditches where they stayed for the duration of the Bulge. On the way there Compton ran into men from the 106th Division retreating and was told horror stories of the fighting.

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Lynn Compton knew the Germans were nearby while he and his men stayed in the area. Compton had to go to the listening post at night and spent a lot of time out there and in the foxhole at night. Compton remembers the weather being cold but the military was not equipped with cold weather clothing. The food was K or C rations. The men would cook in their helmets. Compton would hear mechanics on the road nearby and expected to wake up near an army of tanks. They would be kept awake by firing rockets into trees for the men to stay awake but would not harm anything. Compton does not know if the sounds from the road were a recording or true machinery. The men were sitting ducks and never made an effort to do anything. Compton and the men of Easy Company were surviving and Compton would check on the other men once and awhile to make sure they were alright. Compton and Guarnere [Annotators Note: William Guarnere] would take turns listening to the handheld phone when on watch duty. Guarnere was good friend and he and Compton would help take turns staying awake and keeping watch. The listening post was about 50 yards from the platoon. The area was a sunken road near the ditches. Compton does not remember anyone shooting themselves in the foot to get out of listening duty. Compton would listen to the shelling and could taste gunpowder in his mouth when he stayed in the ditches. One man from West Point whose father was a general was caught in the open and Compton found him with a large hole in his back. Compton saw his friends and other men dead with limbs blown off. While his men were being shot at Compton went to find Lieutenant Dike [Annotators Note: Norman S. Dike] because his men were getting slaughtered on the battlefield.

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Lynn Compton never found Lieutenant Dike [Annotators Note: Norman S. Dike] when he went to search for him while his men were being slaughtered. Dike was not a likeable guy and even though he was only a platoon leader he would lead meetings like he was a general of the Army. In the Band of Brothers series Compton thinks they did not do a very good job of portraying him. Compton just could not relate to him and did not get along very well. Dike and Nixon both went to Yale and Nixon disliked Compton but he never knew why. Compton went to find Lieutenant Dike because they had a lot of casualties and he was yelling because he felt helpless seeing all the slaughter. Compton remembers being in front of Sink [Annotators Note: Colonel Robert F. Sink, regimental commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Sink retired from the US Army as a Lieutenant General] and pleading his case but Compton does not remember vivid details. Sink entitled him a rest because Compton had seen a lot of combat. Compton had a problem with frozen feet and they would turn into broken veins and ache. Compton had trench foot during the time he stayed to fight. He rode with bare feet to treat his trench foot on the way to the hospital but cannot remember where. He spent several days in the hospital and was released to go back to the unit and the men were in Austria by then. Compton had a chance to go to Paris and remembers the American Express headquarters next to the Opera House. Compton saw Eismann [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling] on a Special Service Athletics poster. Compton went to talk to Eismann on his way to meet his unit. Eismann got some orders cut and Compton ended up in Paris to play baseball with the Army. He never made money playing baseball but it affected his life a lot. [Annotator's note: Comptons hearing aid battery dies and he does not get up to change it.]

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Lynn Compton had his orders changed so he could play baseball in Paris. He would look around for facilities for the troops like a running track and swimming pool. A translator would go with Compton to translate and acquire permission for the American troops to use the facilities. Compton woke up one morning and heard about the bomb in Japan. When Hitler shot himself Compton was in Paris and heard about the surrender. Compton notes the war was officially over when the troops got to Berlin. Compton went down to Fort McArthur where his friends picked him up and they went home. He went back to school and saw his girlfriend again and enjoyed being back home. He never understood people who claimed it was difficult making transitions into home life. He never had night terrors. He went back to school to finish his senior year. Compton did not focus on law school right when he got home. He got married and then had to get divorced after a few months. Compton saw his dad's friend who was a judge and was sent to a lawyer to get the divorce and inquired about law school. Compton thought he would play professional baseball but the best he could get into was the minor leagues in the Western International Conference. Compton met a priest who was at Loyola Law School and he did not believe Compton was smart enough to go into law school. Compton took the aptitude test and passed to get into law school. He did well in law school and graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.

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Lynn Compton remembers the death of Robert Kennedy. He jumped into his car to go to the DA's office because he knew it was going to be a big deal. Compton used to be a policeman and knew the Chief of Police really well. They decided that Compton would take charge of the job and gave him a title so they would have somebody to lead the case and give it special attention. Compton was the lead Prosecutor for Sirhan Sirhan. Compton does not believe it was a complicated case because he was caught with a gun in his hand. Compton states his wife could have convicted him. The only question is if he worked alone or in a group or team. Compton does not believe the war changed him but he would not trade the experience and it had a major impact on his life. He cannot specify how it changed his life in any particular way but it impacted every person. The most miserable time during the war was living in trenches for long periods of time in Bastogne or in France. The interviewer asks how it feels to be a character in Ambrose's book and film series. Compton did not originally believe the book would gain much fame and did not believe many people would read it. He believes most people read the book because they saw the film series which was well done in his opinion. After the series has aired, Compton wrote a book and did a lot of things he would not have had to do like meeting Prince Charles when he visited England. Compton and Malarkey spent an hour in Prince Charles' office. Compton cannot remember the exact date he returned to Europe. He went to England for a law convention but that would have been after he was in the DA's office in Los Angeles.

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Lynn Compton does not remember when he went back to Normandy for the first time but realized war is fought on normal grounds. Compton did not find it difficult to go back to Normandy. When the series came out Compton went back to Utah Beach to see the series with Easy Company. He believes it is flattering and a mystery how it became so popular. Compton was flattered by the actor who portrayed him and thinks he is nice and has similar political views with him. [Annotator's note: video is paused when someone behind the camera opens the door.] The actor who portrayed Compton had lunch with him to talk to him and learn about him. Compton did not see most of the filming process because it was filmed in England. He believes it is important to teach and study World War II in the future. Compton notes that history is important and the Second World War had a large effect on the world and shows an advancement in world history. He is surprised by how much young people today do not know about history. He met a friend who was going to Hawaii and Compton told him not to miss the Pearl Harbor memorial and the man asked what Pearl Harbor is. Compton believes it is important to have museums to preserve history. Compton thought Dick Winters was a good officer and they did not get along well, but he was a good officer and Compton admired him.
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